Monthly Archives: October 2015

R.I.P. X – Short Story/Movie Roundup


Happy Halloween! I don’t know about you, but my Halloween has started splendidly. We took a trip to the farmer’s market, dropped in at Half-Price Books, and had lunch at Panera. Then it was back home to play a rousing game of Betrayal at House on the Hill. Now I’m sitting on the couch watching a terrifying documentary about sleep paralysis. Later tonight, we plan on carving pumpkins, coloring some Halloween pictures, and watch something scary. We don’t usually get trick or treaters, but we have candy ready just in case!

Last night we went on a haunted hayride, one we’ve been on before. Things were a bit different this year, however, as the actors are apparently now allowed to touch riders. When we went before, they could get close and jump up on the wagon and get in your face, but they never touched us. It was a bit startling at first, when we realized that the touch boundary was broken, but we quickly adapted and ended up having a lot of fun!

Anyway, with all the excitement, I wanted to make time to get in one last R.I.P. X post. I’ve been reading a ton of Halloween-type stuff, I just haven’t been diligent about posting lately. So here is one last roundup, specifically dealing with the short story collections I’ve read and the films I’ve seen this Halloween season.

Short Story Collections:

Tales by H.P. Lovecraft. Katie and I attempted this one for a reading challenge. I maybe got 25% of the way through it. I think the problem was not that the stories weren’t good, I just couldn’t read straight through them. So for now, this is on my DNF shelf, but I want to eventually come back and read more.

Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre by Paula Guran is a collection of original stories specifically solicited for this volume. I liked this collection because it really evoked a feeling of Halloween, of the time when the veil between worlds is just so thin and the air feels spooky and mysterious!

Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger was one of my most anticipated reads pretty much from when I learned of its existence. It was just released recently and is a pretty fantastic collection. There’s an original story by Niffenegger, but most of the stories in this collection have previously been published. There are some fantastic stories by classic authors as well.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke is the only YA collection on this list. This was a really unique collection because all of the stories are original and each story is built upon something else – a song, pop culture, folklore, etc. At the end of each story, the authors explain the references hidden within their stories. My favorite story in this was a very creepy modern day take on Alice in Wonderland.


Day of the Dead – Part of George Romero’s famous zombie trilogy. My favorite part was Zombie Bub. Not my favorite movie ever, but according to everything I’ve read, this is the worst of the three. I would try the other two.

Rebecca – More unsettling and creepy than actually scary. I haven’t read the book, but now I really want to. Older movies are great, because they don’t do continual, on-screen scares. Instead, they try to get to you psychologically.

Hocus Pocus – A Halloween classic, one that we watch every year. Each year I see things I haven’t seen before.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – We watched the original film from 1974. Chainsaw guys from haunted houses haven’t really scared me before, but now that I’ve seen the movie, these not-so-innocent tools hold a much heavier weight and scare factor. I watched most of this movie from underneath a blanket, sandwiched between my two roommates.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Poster

The Nightmare Before Christmas – Another movie we watch every year. Great music, a fun story, and just super compelling. It’s a Halloween movie, it’s a Christmas movie. You just can’t beat it.

Sleepy Hollow – The 1999 Johnny Depp version. Not too bad on the scare factor. I don’t think I’ve read the book, but isn’t Ichabod Crane supposed to be a schoolteacher? Why is he a lawyer/doctor type person?

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – An independent film from an Iranian filmmaker. A super feminist film, for those of you who care about such things. Want to watch a hip female vampire have dance parties in her bedroom? This one is for you! Not super scary, but definitely a great film! I found it on a ton of “Horror Movies on Netflix 2015” lists, which is why we watched it.

The Nightmare – This one is a documentary about sleep paralysis. It’s a series of interviews with sufferers to record what exactly they experience. That would be scary enough, except the documentary also shows really creepy reenactments of those things. I’m glad I don’t suffer from this!


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Filed under Reading Challenges, Reviews

How to Halloween: Legend of Zelda Link Cosplay

     For the last three Christmases, my roommate Jerelle has gotten me Legend of Zelda themed merchandise. First it was the Master Sword. The next year, she followed up by getting me the Shield of Hyrule. And last year, I unwrapped a delicate ocarina, which is a sort of potato shaped instrument.
     So that made my costume idea for this Halloween really simple. After all, I had a ton of accessories already. All I needed were clothes and a few more accessories and I too would be ready to save Hyrule. I just needed to decide which Link to choose, because he can look pretty different in different games. Since I had the ocarina, I made the obvious choice of Link from Ocarina of Time.
     It was actually a pretty easy costume to put together. I pretty much purchased everything I used; I only modified the shirt a teeny tiny bit. But I wanted to write a post about the process anyway in case there are other would-be heroes out there who are looking for ideas.
Materials (And Where I Got Them)
Boots – Gordman’s for 19.99
Leggings – Meijer for 9.99
White Undershirt (Long Sleeves) – Gordman’s for 7.99
Green Tunic – 2XL green t-shirt from Hobby Lobby (5.99) that I modified just a bit
Blue Hoop Earrings – Walmart for 5.99 as part of a pack
Green Hat – Amazon for 6.99
Brown Arm Warmers – Amazon for 6.02
Sword Belt – Amazon for 15.50
Brown Belt – Used a belt I already owned
Rupee Bag – Handmade by a friend
Sword/Shield/Ocarina – Amazon
Halloween 2015
     The boots, legging, and undershirt are easy enough – just put them on. The green t-shirt goes over the white shirt. I buckled my brown belt around the shirt (just where it felt comfortable), and then I made my modifications. If you get a t-shirt that is a few sizes bigger than you, it should provide an appropriate tunic length. The sleeves were way too long, so I just rolled those back and safety pinned them. I also cut out a small V at the neckline. Be careful with this. On my first t-shirt, I made the V way too long and had to get another t-shirt. You want to start small here.
     After getting dressed in the basics, move on to the accessories. I originally had a fantastic pair of fingerless gloves and some leather gauntlets/arm bracers picked out on Amazon, but they became unavailable right before I put the costume together. So I opted for the arm warmers instead. They were a little long so I just folded them down toward my hands, which had the added bonus of bulking them up and making them appear more gauntlet-like. The hat came ready made, although if you’re crafty, you can certainly make your own pretty easily by buying an extra t-shirt, measuring out two triangles, and sewing together. Just measure your head regardless of which way you go – my hat is a tad bit small on me.
     If you opt for earrings, they should be small-ish. I opted out of elf ears since my hair covers my ears, but those are readily available at most Halloween stores, from Amazon, or from more specialized retailers such as this pair from Aradani Costumes. The sword belt I simply bought and buckled on. My replica sword fits through pretty well, but I have no idea how Link pulls the sword out and is ready for battle in an instant – I can’t reach it! If you have a small leather bag, you can tie it to your belt. This is where I’m carrying my ocarina, but my cell phone fits in there as well! Perfect for Comic Con!
     Speaking of sword and shield, a lot of people opt for foam versions. I got lucky – my roommate picked out some really great replicas. One negative side effect – so heavy! And with my sword strapped on, it’s hard to sit down, visit the restroom, or walk through doorways. Still, it’s worth it.
     And that’s it. Not really too many components, and the great thing about this is that you can go super chill or super authentic. And if you’re really lazy, you can even buy the officially licensed costume here, although I personally think it looks pretty dumb.
Halloween 2015 2
Are you dressing up for Halloween? I want to know all about it in the comments!!


Filed under Jancee's Thoughts

Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Book Club – The Devil in the White City Part 2


One of my favorite things about being part of this community is joining with other bloggers to participate in a challenge or read-along or some other sort of bookish project. I especially love read-alongs because they often expand my reading horizons and I get to answer discussion questions. I love discussion questions! This month over at Doing Dewey, we’re reading Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City.

What was your favorite fun fact from the book?

So many fun facts to choose from. I’m gonna have to go with the story of the Ferris wheel, how it was the first of its kind and everyone thought it would never work. The design was crazy, nothing like that had ever been attempted, and Ferris was actually expecting people to ride on the thing when it was completed. One thing I did wonder was about the scale – why are the Ferris wheels of today so scaled back compared to the original? Maybe I’m just not riding the right wheels.

Did reading about this era make you want to live then? Why or why not?

Absolutely not! It seems like every few pages, someone was suffering from a different ailment. Plus, the police force sounded pretty incompetent, not having the resources or time or enough concern to mount search parties for missing women. And all of those modern conveniences that I so appreciate hadn’t even been conceived yet.

I will grant that the magic and mystique of the fair would have been cool to witness. With today’s instant access to information, it’s harder to keep things under wraps in the same way. And it would have been amazing to be in the presence of Tesla, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Theodore Dreiser, and more. To see Wrigley’s chewing gum, shredded wheat, and Pabst beer for the first time. It must have been wonderful and so futuristic!

Do you think this story will make a good movie?

I certainly hope so. There are so many angles and perspectives that the movie could take…and no shortage of material. I hope the movie focuses equally on the fair and on Holmes, because both stories are fascinating. I hope the movie will evoke the sort of wonder and mystery that the actual fair evoked back in 1893.

What are you thoughts on authors sharing sexist or racist views of their characters/people from another era?

I think I’m confused by this question. I think it the author is sharing an opinion or view from a historical source and it fits within the context fine. But if an author has those opinions and just wants to share what he/she thinks in the book for no great reason, let’s keep it classy please.

Do you plan to read more books by Erik Larson?

Definitely. He writes well and has a knack for weaving together one story from many. I think that in the future, I will try to read print copies of his books instead of going the audio book route, as that ended up being a tad confusing at times.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America




Filed under Doing Dewey's Nonfiction Book Club, Reviews